Not Ready, Not Set, Redistricting | Crooked Media
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April 06, 2022
What A Day
Not Ready, Not Set, Redistricting

In This Episode

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave an emotional address to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday after his visit to Bucha. In his speech, Zelensky accused Russian troops of atrocities, which included violent murder, rape, and a number of horrific acts.
  • There are a number of states fighting over redrawing their maps even as the midterm elections inch closer. Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, joins us to break down some of the states that are knee-deep in this issue right now.
  • And in headlines: Oklahoma’s Legislature passed a near-total ban on abortion, China recorded its highest number of COVID cases in a single day, and the Biden administration plans to extend the payment pause for federal student loan debt to August.


Show Notes:



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Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday, April 6th. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where we are congratulating Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker on their Vegas wedding, but at the same time, we would have loved to attend no big ceremony.


Gideon Resnick: It really is all the small things in life that can get you down.


Priyanka Aribindi: Say it ain’t so. I wish I could go.


Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, the Oklahoma House passed a near-total ban on abortion. Plus several states are still racing to finish redrawing their district maps before the next elections.


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the latest in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an emotional address to the United Nations Security Council. This followed his visit to Bucha, the suburb of Kiev that has been in the news across the world since this past weekend after horrific images of bodies in the street and mass graves surfaced. In his speech, Zelenskyy accused Russian troops of atrocities which included violent murder, rape, and a number of horrific acts. He said those actions are no different than those by a terror group. The only difference, he noted, was that Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Zelenskyy also offered frank criticisms of the U.N.. Here he is, speaking through a translator.


[clip of Volodymyr Zelenskyy] So where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It’s not there. Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to close up the U.N.? Do you think that the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.


Gideon Resnick: And since those images from Bucha came out, leaders around the world have been expressing their outrage. But in terms of actual action, what has followed all of this?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’m glad you asked. So yesterday, the European Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU, proposed a new set of sanctions against Russia. These would ban coal imports, ban Russian ships from EU ports, and target several other industries. They also said that they’re working on banning Russian oil and cutting a major Russian lender off from the EU financial market. As you may have heard previously, the EU relies heavily on Russia for electricity and heating, so these types of sanctions hadn’t been put in place earlier. This is a proposed package, so it will be debated starting today, but it is set to be finalized later this week.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and not everybody is rushing to take action against Russia. Priyanka, what has China been doing so far in response to the war?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So on the world stage, China has largely stayed out of it. Hasn’t pointed any fingers, anything like that. However, several news outlets are reporting that the Chinese Communist Party within the country has mounted a campaign that portrays Russia as a long-suffering victim of the US and defends China’s diplomatic ties to Russia. They have pushed this agenda via college classes and in newspapers, basically blaming the US for what is happening. And thus far they have not condemned Putin for starting this war and killing thousands of innocent people and displacing millions more.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, wow. And then what more do we know about what’s actually happening on the ground in Ukraine?


Priyanka Aribindi: There isn’t much new information right now in the way of troop movements and new attacks, but as Russian troops depart the areas around Kiev, we continue to discover the extent of the devastation that they have left behind. Northwest of Kiev, in a small town called Borodyanka. Russian airstrikes have destroyed buildings and left as many as 200 people missing and presumed dead underneath the rubble. There are also more details coming out from some surviving victims in Bucha who allege that they were tortured. Aerial footage taken by the Ukrainian military in February and released yesterday shows Russian soldiers opening fire on a cyclist who was simply turning a corner in the area. For now, that is the update on where things stand with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As always, we will continue to bring you the latest.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and for now, we are going to turn to American politics for the latest on the redistricting, which is still going strong.


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. There are a number of states fighting over redrawing their maps, even as the 2022 midterm elections are inching closer and closer by the day. Gideon, there is some news about that coming out of where we both are now, New York. Tell us what is happening here.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so on Monday, a New York appellate judge kept a new map temporarily in place after a lower court said it was illegally drawn to benefit Democrats. Justice Stephen K. Lindley did not actually address whether these new maps were in fact gerrymandered, but he did say the case will be decided in the next three weeks or so.


Priyanka Aribindi: All right. And also shifting gears to Ohio, I believe your home state. Where do things currently stand there?


Gideon Resnick: They are not good. To put it lightly, they are not good. Ohio Republicans are breaking basically every single rule. On Monday, they tried to make the case that they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court. A little bit of background on that–so the state Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected the heavily Republican favored maps filed by Governor Mike DeWine and other officials on the Ohio Redistricting Commission, and the court gave said commission a deadline to file a new map by the end of March. Now, instead of changing its gerrymandered map, Republicans approved pretty much the same one just hours before the court-imposed deadline and rejected Democrats push to approve any sort of bi-partisan map. I want to remind people the primary is in less than a month, by the way, on May 3rd. So . . .


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly chaos. Yeah.


Gideon Resnick: Yes. To make matters worse, these maps give the GOP advantages in both the State House and Senate. As a result, the state Supreme Court is considering whether to hold at least the four Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission who voted for the maps last week in contempt.. These are Republicans argued on Monday that they shouldn’t be held in contempt and said they were faced with an impossible deadline to complete constitutional maps. So we’ll be watching what happens next there, of course,


Priyanka Aribindi: people are voting in this in less than a month. They don’t even know what district they’re in. Like. How does one even run an election? I do not understand. But anyways, we could go state by state here with each having a unique story about drawing these maps. But we wanted to break down some of the more complicated states that are, you know, knee-deep in this issue right now. So earlier yesterday, we spoke with Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy program. I started out by asking him which state maps are not yet done for 2022.


Michael Li: So there are only a handful of states that are not yet completely done with redistricting, either because they haven’t finished passing maps or because maps are tied up in litigation and there’s still a chance that they could change for the 2022 midterms. So among the states that haven’t finished redistricting yet, you have New Hampshire, Missouri, and Florida. And then for states where maps are tied up in court and where there could be a chance that the maps could change for this election, you have Kansas and New York.


Gideon Resnick: Right. And you mentioned Florida as being incomplete at the moment. So recently, Governor DeSantis vetoed congressional maps that were drawn in the state by the Republican-controlled legislature. I guess to start, why did that happen? What is happening over there?


Michael Li: Florida is one of the harder states to explain. The dispute really turns around one district in northern Florida, the Florida 5th Congressional District, and it’s a district that stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. The Legislature originally wanted to keep it kind of the way that it was. Governor DeSantis thinks that it’s drawn with too much consideration of race and therefore is unconstitutional. The Legislature didn’t want the map to end up in court, and they redrew the 5th Congressional District to be a more compact district that is centered around Jacksonville. It’s still a Black-ability-to-elect district, but Governor DeSantis doesn’t like that district either. And so, you know, he’s kind of given a series of head-spinning arguments. On the one hand, he’s argued that, you know, the compact district still was drawn with too much consideration of race because it was designed to be a Black-ability-to-elect district, a Black-opportunity district. On the other hand, he argues, for purposes of the Florida Constitution that, Oh it diminishes the ability of Black voters to elect. And so you’re left kind of wondering, which is it? Is it a Black district or is it not a Black district?


Gideon Resnick: And are Republicans in the state as confused about what argument he is making as we are at this current moment?


Michael Li: I think there’s a lot of head scratching with this because it’s not, you know, like the Legislature actually did go back and try to draw a district to meet his concerns, and that didn’t satisfy the governor, either. So I think a lot of people are trying to wonder. So we’ll see.


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Meanwhile, in Ohio, another place that people have been talking about, it feels like everyone has been in a state of limbo for a little while ahead of the primary that is approaching early next month. Where do things stand at the moment there?


Michael Li: Well, Ohio is a mess, both in terms of congressional redistricting and legislative redistricting. Congressional redistricting actually seems a little bit easier in the sense that the court struck down the map, the state’s redistricting commission redrew it. And, you know, it’s still a very biased map. A number of people have challenged that map in court, but the court has set a briefing schedule that would have the briefing complete after the May 3rd primary. And so it looks like there’s a good chance that this very gerrymandered map at least will remain in place for the 2022 midterms. So, you know, redistricting, at least on the congressional level, looks done. And on the legislative level, the maps have been struck down repeatedly, this very political. Commission has repeatedly drawn and passed maps on a largely party-line basis that still are violating the Ohio Constitution. But unfortunately, the Ohio Supreme Court doesn’t have the power to put a map in place. It only can strike them down and tell you to redraw it. And you know, it’s, they’re a little bit like a miscreant child kind of saying like, Well, I know what you said, but I’m still going to do this. It’s a real mess. And, you know, it’s extremely confusing and disconcerting and disappointing to Ohio voters.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s a disaster.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. And on Monday, there was an appellate judge in New York who put a hold on a lower court ruling that basically invalidated a map that was drawn by Democrats. Can you walk us through that decision and what’s next there?


Michael Li: I’m glad to talk about New York because it is, compared to Florida and Ohio, much simpler. A state court judge struck down the state’s congressional and legislative maps as partisan gerrymanders in violation of a state constitution, and also that the Legislature didn’t follow the process that was outlined in the state constitution when it passed the maps. He issued a ruling late last week. And then the state has appealed, and under New York law, when you appeal, that puts a hold on everything. So the trial court judge had ordered the maps redrawn by April 11th and ordered them to be passed with bipartisan support. It’s unclear exactly how he had the power to do that, but nonetheless, that’s what he said in there. It’s not clear that the New York maps will change for the 2022 midterms. The court just may be reluctant to do that. You know, it just may conclude that it needs more time with the merits, so it doesn’t want to disrupt the process, which in New York has been ongoing for a while.


Gideon Resnick: It’s so interesting talking about state by state and just how haphazard, I guess, it is. But what are some of your other major impressions of this entire redistricting cycle as we’re getting close to having maps for all the states?


Michael Li: One is, you know, there will be a lot fewer competitive districts, especially in states where Republicans drew maps because Republicans this cycle decided to go for safety, you know, having fewer but safer seats over trying to grab more seats and knock off Democratic incumbents. On the flip side, Democrats were a little bit more aggressive and kind of spread Democratic voters out a little bit more so that some of those seats could be more vulnerable in a good Republican year, as 2022 seems to be shaping up to be. So another big lesson is that the reforms actually do seem to work if they’re strong reforms. So independent commissions have done a much better job. And the Michigan commission drew very fair maps that have survived a myriad of legal challenges. The California commission succeeded for the second time in a row, creating, you know, very fair maps that actually increased the number of Latino opportunities and Asian opportunities in line with the state’s population growth, in contrast to a state like Texas, which similarly had very fast growth in its minority populations but didn’t increase opportunities at all and instead actually went backwards. And so, you know, reforms work, but you know, not all reforms are created equal. In some places, you know, like Ohio, the reforms have managed to get hijacked.


Gideon Resnick: Ohio! I just, every time it gets invoked, it’s personally painful to me. Well, Michael, thank you so much again. We really appreciate you taking the time and helping us to sort all this out.


Michael Li: Yeah, glad to do it. There will be lots of more to come. Happy to continue chatting.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So we’re going to keep following this as it develops. But if you want to get involved in all things 2022 midterms, be sure to check out Crooked’s Vote Save America and Midterm Madness. We can share some links in our show notes, but that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly passed a near-total ban on abortion yesterday by making it a felony to perform the procedure. The only exception is if the mother’s life is in danger. Offenders would be punished with up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine–truly insane. The bill already passed in the state Senate last year, but its appearance in the state House caught opponents off guard because it wasn’t added to the docket until late Monday, so lawmakers weren’t able to debate it all that much. The ban now heads to Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, who is reportedly willing to sign any anti-abortion law that comes to his desk. But even if he does sign, the bill won’t go into effect until this summer. That means it could be overturned in the courts before then, including the U.S. Supreme Court, if it upholds Roe v. Wade when the justices rule on Mississippi’s own anti-abortion bill in the coming months. Meanwhile, there is some good news for abortion access out there. Colorado enacted a new law on Monday that guarantees people’s right to an abortion, even if Roe is overturned or scaled back. Colorado joins 15 other states and Washington, D.C. that have similar laws on the books.


Priyanka Aribindi: 16 is not high enough of a number in my book. I would love to see that go up dramatically. China recorded its highest number of COVID cases in a single day on Tuesday, and 80% of those were in Shanghai. Cases there have tripled since officials announced a sweeping two-stage lockdown of the city, indicating that the country is still losing its battle against the Omicron variant. For nine days, 25 million Shanghai residents have been confined to their homes, while authorities conducted mass COVID testing throughout the city–I cannot comprehend what it would be like for that many people to actually adhere to a lockdown. That lockdown was set to end yesterday, but because of the spike in cases, city officials announced that they will be extending it until further notice!–another thing that is completely foreign concept. Meanwhile, these authorities are defending a controversial policy in which they separated children from their parents at hospitals if the kids tested positive. In response to outrage online, they modified the guideline on Monday so that parents can stay with their children if they tested positive as well, but authorities held firm on separating families if parents tested negative.


Gideon Resnick: Jeez. Yeah, that’s a lot to take in. The Biden administration will answer calls to forgive student debt with a resounding “let’s table this.” The plan now is to extend the payment pause for federal student loan debt to Aug. 31. That’s according to The Associated Press. As we mentioned on the show, the pause was initially set to expire on May 1st. Borrowers can now breathe a temporary sigh of relief, knowing that they won’t have to make payments for a few more months. But not everyone was satisfied with Biden’s decision to hit snooze on this issue rather than just turning the alarm off. The Debt Collective, one of many groups that advocate for complete loan cancelation, tweeted quote, “Pausing a crisis doesn’t solve it.”–That’s very true.


Priyanka Aribindi: True.


Gideon Resnick: Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also chimed in on Twitter yesterday to say, These pauses might seem like victories, but ultimately just create more financial anxiety for the 40 million Americans who have student loan debt. She tweeted quote, “I don’t think those folks understand the panic and disorder it causes people to get so close to these deadlines just to extend the uncertainty.


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, she’s right.


Priyanka Aribindi: Deb Collective put it best, that doesn’t get rid of the problem.


Gideon Resnick: No. Still there, just later.


Priyanka Aribindi: And lastly, some quick, painful updates about the state of American conservatism. First, former presidential adviser and one-time been influencer, Ivanka Trump, testified for several hours to the House January 6th committee yesterday, appearing in front of the panel voluntarily. That puts her in stark contrast to many of her dad’s other allies, who have refused subpoenas to appear. Also, Georgia lawmakers ended their legislative session yesterday, but they managed to get a number of odious right-wing bills passed under the wire, including one that would allow state police to investigate voter fraud without being called in by another agency–OK.


Gideon Resnick: Woof.


Priyanka Aribindi: This election police force bill resembles a bill Florida lawmakers passed last month. Voting rights advocates say both these pieces of legislation would intimidate voters. And lastly, looking ahead, the group that hosts Coachella but for people who think Lola Bunny should actually be hotter, the Conservative Political Action Committee, or CPAC, will host CPAC Hungary next month in Budapest, with newly-reelected prime minister and Putin stan, Viktor Orban, serving as keynote speaker–I cannot think of a less appealing event. The event’s embrace of Orban, who is known for his attack on the LGBTQ community, the Muslim community, and more generally the democratic rights of his citizens, highlights the willingness of one kind of American conservative to stop messing around and go full autocrat.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that is truly wild. I’m still stuck on thinking of Ivanka as being influencer and the Goya memories that flooded back.


Priyanka Aribindi: I know I had to ask you about. I was like, what? I deleted it from my brain, but it’s back, don’t worry.


Gideon Resnick: Unfortunately, all of the stupid things get housed in there for good, and the actual necessary things are fleeting.


Priyanka Aribindi: No, no, no. There’s so little space for actual useful information, but so many for Melania Trump’s Twitter archives of like the Beluga Whale and what is she thinking. Like, why do I know that?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, it’s important for a moment exactly like these, and those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with our thoughts about a new game-changing social media app called The Real.


Priyanka Aribindi: You don’t want to miss this.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday WAD squad, and today we’re doing a segment where we prove that we are in fact on the cutting edge by experimenting with a new trend. We guarantee that if you are 19-years old enlisting, you will find this authentic and cool and not like the picture of Steve Buscemi saying, How do you do, fellow kids? The segment is called What Can Relate? Do 19-year olds even know that picture? Anyway. So today we’re talking about BeReal, a new social media app that is apparently gaining traction on college campuses. Where other social media apps train you to present an idealized version of your life and spend hours consuming everyone else’s idealized life, BeReal promises to deliver a more authentic experience. It does this by sending users a notification once every day, prodding them to post a picture in the next two minutes, no matter what they’re up to. This theoretically strips away the anxiety-inducing act of life curation that can make social media so exhausting. To quote one real undergraduate interviewed about B-Real in my alma mater student newspaper–shout out Daily Northwestern, quote, “It’s like a no-judgment zone. You’re just hanging out seeing what people are doing.”–Life can be sweet. Posts are also only visible to friends, so you’re not performing for the entire world. But of course, all that leaves us with a question: if our goal is to live more authentic and fully-realized lives, is the solution really another app for posting pictures? We here at the WAD squad all became new users of BeReal today to help find answers. So Priyanka, put you on the spot here, what are your initial thoughts on this app?


Priyanka Aribindi: All right, Gideon, I know our opinions differ slightly. I love BeReal. I am having so much fun. Our team is all on it. There are like six or seven of us on it. We get prompted with a little notification. We take a picture really quickly and it’s like a fun way to keep in touch. I honestly think it’d be like a great way to keep in touch with like, a group of friends if you all live in different places. I was thinking of my college friends. Like, I think it’s like kind of fun, kind of spontaneous. And I’m really enjoying it so far. I think it’s, I don’t know. Gideon, what do you think? Because I know we might not be on the same train.


Gideon Resnick: I like this in theory. I enjoy seeing all of my lovely colleagues’ faces and what they’re up to. I think that the time constraint thing is a little bit intense. And I also think ultimately, because we are human beings, the good-natured aspect of this will get corrupted really quickly. Like we pretend that there isn’t some sort of social pressure that is involved here or whatever, but the second that we spot something in the distance in that selfie/picture that somebody BeReal-ed and we want it, you know, it’s going to naturally turn that way. But that’s not the app’s fault. That just human beings and social media’s fault.


Priyanka Aribindi: That is true. I saw our head writer Jon Millstein post one on his skateboard that he took in the middle of like a break that we had for five minutes. And so I was like A, like, pretty curated. But also like I got to step my game up where I was like, that is not the point of this!


Gideon Resnick: Right.


Priyanka Aribindi: But still, I’m still finding it very fun. I’m liking this way of connecting with my coworker.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we love seeing skating, just in general, but if we are thinking about stepping our game up, you know, are we inherently being real? I think that’s the answer that, you know, we were put on this Earth to find


Priyanka Aribindi: Being real’ish.


Gideon Resnick: Real-ish. Just like that, we have proved ourselves to be modestly on trend, I suppose.


Priyanka Aribindi: We are so with the times.


Gideon Resnick: Definitely the case. That was WAD Can Relate. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, join us on BeReal, or don’t, and tell your friends to listen.


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just notifications supposed to be real in the next two minutes like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And have birthday Jazzi Marine!


Priyanka Aribindi: Jazzi, we love you. Happy Birthday! Get out of here. Go have a drink. Go have dinner. Have a great day.


Gideon Resnick: Happy birthday Jazzi. And just remember, you have to thank Top Gun. If you know, you know. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.